A very lost plover…
This rare vagrant to southern Africa pitched up at Borakalalo National Park last weekend and caused a burst of activity from the local birding community. Although not as rare as its American cousin, it is still a very sought after bird in our part of the world.
Not being able to make the trip to Borakalalo during the week, I had to wait anxiously until yesterday afternoon to get there. Fortunately this plover, although very lost, is super chilled and is still happily (well at least as of 15h30 yesterday) noshing flies on the shoreline.
In order to help get a half decent shot of him and also to leave him undisturbed, I made sure I packed my lens extender, a bag full of patience and my best leopard crawling trousers. We spent a good hour with him, enduring the rain, the wind and the occasional sand blast. I will not forget the experience in a hurry! We also left him as we found him; relaxed and feeding.
Side note: How do we know he is a pacific golden plover? Well, he is not a grey plover as he is much smaller and more slender and has grey armpits (as opposed to black ones). And he is not an American golden plover as his legs extend well beyond his tail in flight and his tertials extend almost to his tail tips. That said, I will leave you with a quote from Oscar and Pat Johnson, in their study of Morphometric features of Pacific and American Golden-Plovers: “Finally, our best advice to birders trying to interpret a questionable plover in non-breeding plumage is to concentrate mostly on its primary tip exposure and primary projection characteristics. Recognize also… that despite the best efforts of dedicated observers to confirm extralimital records of these plovers, some of the latter will be impossible to identify with certainty.”